Jay Hoffmann

WordPress Developer, History enthusiast

Bringing Back the Personal Site

There have been quite a few articles recently about the importance of the personal site, and the blogging community. It’s a sentiment I’m super excited about.

Rian Van Der Merwe has probably the simplest point. Blogs are the front page of the internet, and it’s their freedom that gives them their strength.

All this to say that I think it’s time we bring blogging and personal sites back. Some of my favorite sites are the ones that give me a glimpse into everything a person is interested in… It’s a way to get to know someone through their interests, and to learn a bunch of things along the way. So I invite you not just to follow along here as I expand into topics beyond design and technology, but to start your own personal blog up again if you’ve been neglecting it for a while.

Tom McFarlin pointed out that a personal site was a great way to ensure that you own your own data, so that it can outlive and outgrow the third party, walled gardens we’re all used to.

Imagine being able to continue sharing information, but also continuing to own all of the information for yourself by simultaneously bringing it back into a database into an area you own.

Pretty exciting, right? At least for those of us who are tin foil hat types.

Reacting to Twitter’s plan to keep long form content on their own site, Mandy Brown discussed the magic of the hyperlink and the journey that is the open web.

In addition to places to talk… they have also been places to venture off from—you start in your feed, but you end up in a browser, half a dozen clicks away. If everything comes to your feed instead, will you never leave? Will this be like working in one of those startup buildings with their own coffee houses and cafeterias and laundry services, where the streets outside could flood and you wouldn’t notice for days?

Then, Dave Wisner lashed out at Medium, but I think more importantly, talked about the opportunities for a new blogosphere, one that is more connected then ever, (and that the WordPress REST API can certainly play a part in).

But there is another approach, to have WordPress accept as input, the URL of a JSON file containing the source code for a post, and then do its rendering exactly as if that post had been written using WordPress’s editor. That would give us exactly what we need to have the best of all worlds. Widespread syndication and control over our own writing and archive.

As a bit of a retort in The State of the Casual Blogger, Ghost founder John O’nolan was quick to point out that people use services like Medium because they’re easy, fun and simple. And, hey, maybe we should try that, but at the end of the day both will continue to exist side by side:

There is more than enough room in the publishing industry for open and closed platforms to exist in harmony, catering to different types of writers with their individual advantages.

In 2016, I want to start writing again, and sharing things as I come across them. I always want to work on tools that can help personal websites become a central hub for all of our data and content that’s currently distributed all around the internet. Looking around, I guess I’m not alone.